Giambi returns from injury, White hurt in Yankees camp

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2002

The New York Yankees welcomed back one expensive free agent on Tuesday and almost immediately lost another.

First baseman Jason Giambi, nursing a sore left hamstring, missed his second straight intrasquad game but took part in pregame drills. He is expected to play in an exhibition game either Friday or Saturday.

''It feels a lot better today,'' said Giambi, who signed a seven-year, $120 million contract in the offseason. ''I'm trying to be on the safe side and not overdo it. We just want to keep it getting better.''

Just as Giambi returned to work, Yankees outfielder Rondell White strained his left rib cage swinging a bat. Manager Joe Torre said White could miss 10 days or more.

''I think we'll know tomorrow,'' Torre said. ''A rib cage (injury), it really shuts you down. It eliminates throwing and swinging.''

White, who signed a $10 million, two-year deal, has been on the disabled list eight times during his major league career, and has played in just 189 games the past three seasons.

In Haines City, Fla., the Royals said outfielder Mark Quinn probably will open the season on the disabled list because of a cracked rib that will sideline him for 4-to-6 weeks.

''He told me he fell back up against an edge of a chair,'' general manager Allard Baird said. ''Obviously, it is very frustrating for the kid.''

Spring training has barely begun but new Houston Astros manager Jimy Williams already has set his pitching rotation.

Williams picked 16-game winner Wade Miller as his opening day pitcher against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 2. Miller led the Astros in victories, starts (32), innings (212) and strikeouts (183) last season. He finished with a 3.40 ERA and pitched six or more innings in 28 of his 32 starts.

Behind Miller, the Astros will use right-handers Roy Oswalt, Shane Reynolds and Dave Mlicki. Carlos Hernandez and Tim Redding will compete for the fifth spot with Hernandez set to start the exhibition opener Friday.

Toronto manager Buck Martinez won't commit to a rotation yet except to say Roy Halladay will get the start against the Yankees on Friday with Chris Peters, Scott Eyre and Bob File following him.

Right-handers Brandon Lyon, Chris Carpenter and Luke Prokopec with follow Halladay to start the first four games of the spring.

''You can read anything you want into it,'' Martinez said. ''It just sets up that way, that's the way we're going to start the spring. These guys have all thrown well and we're anxious to see them on the mound against other teams.''

The Atlanta Braves are trying to sort out a crowd at first base. The incumbent is Julio Franco but Wes Helms is bidding for playing time with B.J. Surhoff.

''I'm going to show the Braves I can start at first base, and they will feel comfortable with me there,'' said Helms, who hit only .222 in his rookie season last year with the Braves. ''That's what I'm going to do.''

Franco, acquired last Aug. 31 for the stretch run, hit .300 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 25 games. Surhoff, playing left field, batted .271 last season with 10 homers and 58 RBIs. He has been shunted to a backup role after the Braves acquired Gary Sheffield and Vinny Castilla and moved Chipper Jones from third to left.

Helms had only two at-bats in September -- a walk and a strikeout.

''I don't look at numbers,'' he said. ''I go out there to play hard and help the team win. Hitting 10 home runs with 36 RBIs in 200 (216 to be exact) at bats, you can't complain with that. Average-wise, I don't look at the average because I didn't play every day. I know when I do play every day and get in a groove, I'll do better than that.''

The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking forward to the arrival of standout Texas running back Cedric Benson, who is ready for some baseball.

Benson, the Big 12 Conference offensive freshman of the year last season when he gained 1,053 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, will play in the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor league organization this summer.

''He'll come in here mid-March, whenever spring break is, just spend a couple days, maybe suit up,'' Bill Bavasi, the Dodgers' director of player development, said Tuesday. ''He'll be back to play in mid-May, whenever school's out. He'll be with us until early August, when he reports to Texas' football training camp.''

Benson batted .361 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in his senior year of high school. The Dodgers drafted him in the 12th round -- 370th overall -- in last June's amateur draft.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers signed catcher Paul Lo Duca to a three-year $7.25 million contract. Lo Duca batted .320 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs last season, when he made $230,000.



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